We took our kids to church on Sunday. I know. This should not be an accomplishment. But, in my house it is. Actually getting seven people out of the house in time to get to a service when you could just be laying on the floor watching Phineas and Ferb is practically an Olympic sport. Especially in the winter when getting dressed involves SOCKS and shoes and coats.
We don’t go to church every Sunday. Mostly because we’re lazy. But also because it isn’t on the list of mandatory obligations. You know, like school, or dinner. I can barely keep up with those two. But when we make it, we’re always glad we’ve gone. We love those people and they love us. Nobody is trying to be anything they aren’t.
Which is good. Because Sunday, as I pulled the twins out of the van and sent them marching towards the education building, Zoë gasps, “Mom! Why do Celia and Alice have GRAY hair?!”
Pride cometh before a fall, and I admit I was just the littlest bit proud of the fact that I had the twins in matching clothes. Clean matching clothes. DRESSES even. Stripy knit dresses, but still…
I had noticed that they smelled particularly nice when I buckled them in their seats. I figured the fresh bath smell was lasting longer than usual. I had no idea it was a half inch of baby powder piled up on their scalps.
I’m not sure how I missed it. I brushed their hair. Kind of. If tackling a toddler and hacking away at syrup caked on the ends of her tresses counts as brushing. I’ll admit I’m not very persistent. I give up and move on to another girl when the screaming gets to be too much. But there they were, in the sunlight outside our church, looking like they were ready for their roles in Cocoon.
This never would have happened when my eldest was two. Not just because I only had one child, and therefore more time, but because I thought of Zoë as a reflection of me as a parent. I was only too aware that I had no idea what I was doing. I certainly didn’t want everyone else to know too.
Zoë was bathed every night, not necessarily to clean her, but to show that I was the kind of mother who had clean children. Her hair was brushed and braided. She had 15 pairs of shoes and we had knock down drag out toddler fights about which ones should be worn with which outfits. God forbid someone think I didn’t care enough to demand seasonally appropriate footwear.
I sent out photo Christmas cards. In early December.
I felt like I was floundering as a new parent, and that if I just crossed every “t” and dotted every “i”, somehow I could mitigate the damage. Fake it till you make it. Mostly, I made us both crazy.
Now I have a bazillion children. Well, five. Whatever. And I still suck at parenting a lot of the time. But I’m less afraid to admit it. I think freshly bathed, adorably dressed kids are great. They aren’t my kids, but yay for them.
My kids are the dusty ones tromping into the church nursery with gray hair. And when asked what happened they answer devilishly, “We was naughty at night-night and put da powder rain on our heads. But dat’s ok. Cause Mama wuvs us even when we make a bad choice.”
I’m putting that on our Christmas card next year. Look for it around Valentine’s Day.